Conservative Dave Epp is greeted by retiring Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren on Monday after he took the lead in the Chatham-Kent-Leamington riding to keep the seat Tory blue. (Trevor Terfloth/Chatham Daily News)
Chatham-Kent-Leamington remained Tory blue by electing Conservative Dave Epp to continue the work began by his predecessor, Dave Van Kesteren, who retired after 13 years holding the seat.
“I’m still a bit overwhelmed, but I am looking forward to the task,” Epp said after being declared the winner. “We’re going to get to work right away, starting tomorrow morning.”
The Leamington farmer will soon be a first-time member of Parliament, but he has more than 30 years experience representing farmers in a political capacity, previously serving on the board of directors of Agricorp and the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers.
“Im happy with the national result . . . I certainly hope everyone will work together for the betterment of Canada, Omstead said.
Noting she was obviously disappointed, Omstead said, My team worked very hard . . . I feel theres nothing more we could have done. I cant have any regrets in this.
She spent months out on the campaign trail knocking on doors across the riding, along with mounting an extensive social media presence in the hopes of building on her strong showing in the 2015 federal election, when she finished just 2,326 votes behind Van Kesteren.
She was the only local candidate to have a party leader come to the riding during the election campaign when Justin Trudeau held a quick meet and greet with Liberal party supporters in Tilbury on Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 14.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer visited the neighbouring riding of Essex near the end of the campaign.
NDP candidate Tony Walsh, who appeared to be poised to finish third for the second consecutive election, said he enjoyed the campaign.
When asked if he’ll run again, Walsh said he “would never rule anything out,” adding it would be another family decision.
Walsh said if there’s a minority government, and an election happens sooner than four years, “there’s a chance that I’d be in the same position I’m at right now where I could do this again.”
Green Party candidate Mark Vercouteren, who appeared destined to finish a distant fourth, said a minor controversy involving his 2014 response to a Campaign Life Coalition survey, which resurfaced again, proved “to be a huge distraction for me and I think that was creating issues.”
However, Vercouteren believes the Green Party did well because the climate change issue remains foremost in the minds of many Canadians, particularly with climate emergencies seen in Chatham-Kent-Leamington.
John Balagtas, PPC – 1,039 Paul Coulbeck, MP – 302 Dave Epp, CON – 24,959 Katie Omstead, LIB – 16,486 Mark Vercouteren, GRN – 2,172 Tony Walsh, NDP – 8,004
CBC projects victory for Dave Epp for the Conservative Party in the Chatham-Kent-Leamington riding Monday night, once again the riding's Parliamentary seat for the Conservative Party.
With 28.8 per cent of polls reporting, Dave Epp had taken about 46.9 per cent of the vote, compared to 30.8 per cent for Liberal candidate Katie Omstead.
The riding has been held by Conservative Dave Van Kesteren since 2006, including the years prior to 2015 when the riding was known as Chatham-Kent-Essex. Van Kesteran chose not to seek re-election.
Chatham-Kent—Leamington consists of the Municipality of Leamington, Pelee Island, part of Lakeshore, the southern half of Chatham-Kent (including the former City of Chatham) and Eelūnaapèewii Lahkèewiit (Delaware Nation at Moraviantown).
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